D.C. fire chief demoted because street signs were used to repair ambulances.

Hudson

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Jan 14, 2002
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A deputy fire chief appointed earlier this year to oversee the D.C. fire department’s troubled apparatus division is being demoted to battalion chief after the embarrassing discovery that several ambulances were repaired with street signs.

Mechanics from the Department of Public Works — who were asked to step in and assist the fire department’s overwhelmed mechanics shop — bent aluminum street signs and used them as makeshift heat shields inside the engine compartments of four ambulances while repairing the units last month.

The improvised repairs were brought to the attention of Deputy Chief John Donnelly on the afternoon of Aug. 12, according to an email sent by the firefighters’ union to Chief Donnelly.

But an official with knowledge of the incident said Chief Donnelly did not forward the matter up his chain of command — to either an assistant fire chief or to Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe.

The email reporting the haphazard work arrived in Chief Donnelly’s inbox just hours after department leadership held a meeting — addressing issues surrounding an ambulance assigned to President Obama’s motorcade that ran out of gas the prior week — to emphasize that lapses in communication and oversight would not be tolerated, the official said.

Two days after the meeting, the firefighters union publicized a photo of one of the ambulances repaired with a street sign, prompting the department to pull the ambulances off the street to be properly repaired.



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Police to probe D.C. ambulance fires
WASHINGTON - A pair of ambulance fires Tuesday and the news that street signs have been used as spare parts are the latest problems facing the District's struggling Fire and EMS Department.

In the past few months, ambulances have broken down, one ran out of gas on the way to a call at the White House and a lack of working ambulances has slowed response times. But even for a fire department with regular maintenance issues, word of multiple ambulance fires in a single day raised eyebrows and has prompted a police investigation.

"One ambulance catching fire is an unusual event. A second ambulance catching fire raised concerns for me," says Paul Quander, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice.

He has asked Metropolitan Police Department to investigate whether "anything untoward was taking place."

Quander took questions about the latest ambulance woes following a news conference Wednesday. He refused to speculate on who or what could be behind the ambulance fires.

"If there is anything that is criminal, then (police) will take the appropriate action. If not, then that information will be relayed to me and we'll proceed from there," he said.
 
Last edited:
Dec 8, 2004
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Well at least they used the same metal to attempt to fix the blambulances... wonder what they fix them with in Detroit.